I appeared at an pre-election forum tonight hosted by The Change Agency as part of a panel discussion on why voting matters. The election is less than a week away now. As far as I’m concerned why voting matters falls under the category of “we hold these truths to be self-evident.”
Do I really need to tell an adult they should vote? Do they need to be told to change their underwear every day too?
There is always a reason for Black folks to vote. Our interests can only be advanced when we exercise our political clout AND demand accountability from the politicians.
But politics is not a cure-all to every ill and NO president can fix everything in a scant two years. Especially, not one whose very legitimacy is called into question by his enemies.
Any student of history (and the civil rights era is hardly ancient history even if most of the film was in black and white) should know how Blacks were systematically disenfranchised and literally shed blood to obtain the right we were already Constitutionally guaranteed.
So now because we’re oh so cool and hip and all that voting is passe? A tedious chore which accomplishes nothing but reinforces the status quo? We’re supposed to turn our backs on all those Blacks, Whites, Jews, Gentiles, gays and straights, men, women and children who put it ALL on the line so we can have the luxury of opting out because some of us are disappointed in ONE particular politician?
I don’t believe in sitting on the sidelines and hoping things will work out for the best. Because there are too many people who would love to turn the clock back, take away what we’ve sweated blood for and put back up those “Whites Only” signs. Not just over water fountains and lunch counters, but over houses, jobs, political power and everywhere else we’ve made inroads to.
Politics is not a panacea. Sometimes–many times–the good guys lose.
Simply sitting on our hands while Boehner, McConnell and the Tea Party plot to make Obama a totally neutered Chief Executive doesn’t strike me as all that appealing.
I don’t believe African-Americans should be beholden to ANY political party exclusively. I subscribe to the theory of “no permanent enemies and no permanent friends, just permanent interests.” I’m willing to sit down with Republicans, Democrats, independents and anybody else to advance the interests of 30-plus million Black folks.
But you can’t play the game if you don’t have any cards and people who don’t vote and don’t choose to fight for their interests are impotent, unimportant and ignored.
Crying about things don’t change them. Neither does apathy or disengaging and dropping out from the established system. If it did, then why are all those White folks in the Tea Party working so hard to get people into power who think JUST LIKE THEY DO?
The energy of the Tea Party is to be admired. It’s their politics I find abhorrent. On almost every social issue of importance to me, the Tea Party stands in adamant opposition to. At their best, the Tea Party is a plaything of wealthy right-wingers and corporate interests. At their worst, the Tea Party is the American Taliban.
I vote because when I do it pisses off Karl Rove, Rupert Murdoch, Fox News, and the Koch Brothers. Making them unhappy makes me quite happy.
I vote because not to do so cedes the battle to my enemies. I vote because not to do so is a slap in the dead faces of King, Evers, Chaney, Schwerner, Goodman and everybody else who died so I could have this right. I may get discouraged and I may get beaten, but I’ll be damned if I give up.
Vote like your life depends on it. Your future sure does.